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Editorial: Continue to raise awareness of Japan’s sovereignty over Takeshima islands

The Shimane prefectural government and others have held a ceremony to commemorate “Takeshima Day” in Matsue. It is vital to continue raising awareness to galvanize public opinion.


About 500 people attended the ceremony, which marked its 15th year. At the ceremony, a special resolution was adopted calling on the government to hold firm diplomatic negotiations.


The prefecture enacted an ordinance establishing Takeshima Day in 2005.


It has made efforts to collect materials to support Japan’s sovereignty. Last autumn, a local researcher found a 19th-century German map that described the Takeshima islands as Japanese territory. Schools in the prefecture hold classes on the history of the islands.


The prefectural government’s drive to raise awareness regarding the islands is commendable.


“It’s an important issue concerning national sovereignty,” Cabinet Office parliamentary vice minister Takashi Fujiwara said at the ceremony. The central government should strengthen cooperation with the prefecture.


The government relocated the National Museum of Territory and Sovereignty to Tokyo’s Kasumigaseki district in January. The museum’s exhibits on the Takeshima islands, the Senkaku Islands and the northern territories have been greatly expanded. It is necessary to utilize the facility as a base for spreading information and conducting research.


Japan established sovereignty over the Takeshima islands in the 17th century. The Meiji government decided to incorporate the islands in 1905 after a claim for fishing rights was made by sea lion hunters. The islands were not included among areas that Japan renounced claims to under the San Francisco Peace Treaty signed after World War II.


Challenge claim


Just before the treaty went into effect, however, South Korea unilaterally established the Syngman Rhee Line marine boundary and illegally occupied the islands.


As one of the grounds for its possession, the South Korean side has claimed negotiations between Japan and Korea in the 17th century confirmed that Takeshima belonged to Korea.


The Japanese government, on the other hand, says the negotiations broke down and that Korea’s claim deviates from facts. Documents exist confirming that the Edo shogunate — during which citizens were forbidden from traveling overseas — did not prohibit travel to the Takeshima islands.


Claims that appear to distort history must be challenged, based on objective evidence.


The South Korean military conducts annual exercises near the Takeshima islands, and lawmakers of the South Korean national assembly including members of the ruling party have visited the islands several times. The Japanese government must not overlook such bullish behavior; it must protest each time such incidents occur.


Education concerning Japanese territory is also important. In a survey conducted by the Cabinet Office last autumn, 63% of respondents showed an interest in the Takeshima islands, a slight increase from the previous survey conducted two years earlier.


Under new school curriculum guidelines to be implemented from the 2020 school year, all social studies textbooks for fifth-grade elementary school students will include information stipulating that the Takeshima islands are an inherent part of Japanese territory.


It is hoped that the central and local governments will strengthen training programs for teachers or improve supplementary teaching materials so that younger generations can learn about historical facts accurately.

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